… I had been elected a member [of the VA House of Burgesses] by my county. I knew that our [state’s] legislation under the regal government had many very vicious points which urgently required reformation, and I thought I could be of more use in forwarding that work. I therefore retired from my seat in Congress on the 2d. of Sep. resigned it, and took my place in the legislature of my state, on the 7th. of October.
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Leaders should lead where they’re most useful, regardless of status.
Virginia renewed Jefferson’s status as a delegate to the Continental Congress a month after its adoption of the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson’s home county of Albemarle also elected him to his previous position as a member of the new state legislature, formerly the House of Burgesses.
Virginia’s laws were those of a English colony, reflecting the mother country’s values. Jefferson saw “many very vicious points” in those laws which needed revision. He thought he could be of more value there than continuing in the Congress. He resigned his position in the national legislature to take his place in the state one.
This move would also allow him to be much closer to home, where he could attend to his wife’s frail health and their two very young daughters.
As the war for independence continued, he devoted considerable time over the next three years to re-writing Virginia’s statutes. One of the three life accomplishments that adorn his tombstone came from this work.